It’s Shobiz for Havas

19 Dec,2019

Image courtesy a screengrab of the popular game Pacman


By A Correspondent


In 1974, the veteran Alyque Padamsee commissioned one of the biggest event organiser Rehamatali Tobaccowala to launch Rexona in India. Tobaccowala wa known as one of the biggest wedding celebrations in Mumbai and beyond. And then Rehmatbhai, as he was popularly called, was involved with the Indian versions of Evita, Man of La Mancha and Jesus Christ Superstar.


In 2016, Shobiz Experiential Chairman and Managing Director passed away at the age of 84. When in the early 1990s, this correspondent was to introduced to Rehamatali Tobacowala as the Father of the Indian Events and Experential Industry, the sector itself was in its infancy.


Today, three years after Rehamatbhai’s his company was acquired by leading communications marketing services conglomerated Havas for what’s being billed as a handsome sum.


This is Havas’s third acquisition in 2019, and perhaps its biggest. Shobiz may not be the #1 in size, but it’s decidedly the first and most experienced experiential agency. It employs over 300 professionals across its five offices in India. According to industry sources, a few years back Shobiz was close to inking a deal with WPP, but that didn’t happe. The current acquisition by Havas took over a year to fructify.


Headquartered in Mumbai, the Shobiz portfolio boasts of over 142 recurring clients. While Sameer Tobaccowala, CEO, Shobiz will continue to oversee the business along with Vishnu Mohan, Chairman & CEO, Havas Group India & South East Asia, the daily operations will be led by COO Tejpal Singh Patpatia who will report into Rana Barua, CEO Havas Group India.

In May this year Havas Group acquired Think Design, the leader in user experience consultancy and design in India, followed by the acquisition of Langoor a full-service digital agency led and driven by creative technologists in September this year.


said Sameer Tobaccowala, CEO, Shobiz:

“Crafting unforgettable brand experiences has the power to engage consumers in ways not seen before. Havas Group’s integrated approach to brand building coupled with their entrepreneurial spirit resonated with us. We are confident that this collaboration will unlock unprecedented growth opportunities for us and forge stronger consumer connections that foster trust, loyalty and business results. We are thrilled to be a part of Havas and look forward to a meaningful journey ahead, together,”

Said Yannick Bolloré, Chairman and CEO Havas Group comments in a statement: “India has increasingly become a priority for Havas, and even more so over the past 12 months. With the acquisition of Shobiz we have delivered on our ambitious growth plan to triple our footprint in India. Shobiz’s talented teams are renowned for their solid track record and their excellence in the planning and flawless execution of complex events. After strengthening our local digital and service design capabilities with the acquisitions of Think Design and Langoor, we can now significantly boost our activation and experiential offer on the rapidly growing events market in India. Shobiz is a precious addition to Havas and I welcome them warmly.”


Added Vishnu Mohan, Chairman & CEO, Havas Group India & South East Asia:

“Experiential marketing is a critical component of an integrated approach to brand building as consumers are demanding personalized and meaningful interactions across all touchpoints. The acquisition of Shobiz will further strengthen the breadth of our multi-disciplinary Village model of working and bring on board a different kind of creative skills set. Shobiz’s transformation from a leading production house to be one of the country’s leading experiential communications agency is impressive and I am delighted to welcome Sameer and his entire team to the Havas family.”


Said Rana Barua, CEO Havas Group India: “Shobiz’s acquisition adds an enviable strength to Havas Group with its forte in the experiential space. Shobiz’s thirst for innovation, impact and results, adds tremendous value to our existing offerings as a group, and seamlessly fits in with Havas Group’s multi-faceted, integrated, client centric “Village” style of working, giving us a distinctive advantage and making it a much stronger force to reckon with.”


So what’s next for Havas. Accordiing to the grapevine, it has started discussions with a few leading PR agencies for a buy. But that’s possibly next year.

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